I see a lot of stuff, like fist fights, and I’m going to help my friends get out of trouble.” Fourteen-year-old Darvis (a PEACE IN THE HOUSE participant) doesn’t get into much trouble, but he often faces situations that have potentially violent consequences. While navigating a myriad of choices, his decisions are likely influenced by how he will be viewed by his peers. Whether motivated by duty or a sense of belonging, he feels compelled to engage in inappropriate behavior. When Blues City Cultural Center created PEACE IN THE HOUSE in 1993, it had young people like Darvis in mind.
In communities across the country, youth face difficult choices that transcend ethnicity, gender and socio-economic status. The wrong decision can often lead to consequences that adversely impact their lives and neighborhoods.
PEACE IN THE HOUSE uses the creative arts as a platform to engage youth in activities that promote peace as a process for managing conflict thereby reducing incidences of violence and fostering socially-appropriate behaviors. Recognizing that communication is key to managing and resolving conflict, youth will be encouraged to speak freely and creatively explore issues that jeopardize or hinder peace as a process. Supported by a nurturing, non-threatening environment, youth will be encouraged to talk about their own experiences, ultimately finding a common ground that can serve as their foundation for promoting peace. As a conflict resolution project, it places youth as the primary change agents for promoting peace within their own lives.
PEACE IN THE HOUSE includes an excerpt from Ritual Murder, a play that centers on the investigation of the seemingly senseless killing of a young man by his best friend. Written by Tom Dent more than 40 years ago, the message and meaning of Ritual Murder are relevant reminders of violent situations that plague many communities. Youth have become leading characters in real-life dramas whose consequences are often featured on news programs and social media. Dr. Altha Stewart, president-elect of the American Psychiatric Association, commented that the characters in the play are real and she sees them every day in her work. Furthermore, she stated that something must be done to mitigate those adverse childhood experiences which often lead to incarceration and or death. PEACE IN THE HOUSE initiates conversations among youth regarding their own experiences and offers constructive ways to handle conflicts and potentially violent situations. Ultimately, youth learn and can demonstrate how they can reduce or eliminate violence and use the arts to make a difference through creative expressions that promote peace.